Before we start dear reader… Some of the questions in this interview may come across as sexist, these questions have been asked by fans of the dev and cleared by the dev before the interview so bear this in mind before leaving any rude or nasty comments!
TotesNotThea: Thanks for doing this interview Teri, and welcome to LewdPixels Towers.
Teri: Thanks for having me! I like the anal sex mural in the lobby; it brings a real air of sophistication what with all the stripper poles in front of it.
TNT: I know right? So, first question… What got you into adult games?
Teri: And thus we begin our journey to the ancient times of the mid-90s, when a young teenaged Teriling was navigating the early interwebs through an AOL dial-up connection. My first night online I ended up having cybersex with a stranger in Pennsylvania, so that started off my digital life on the right foot. My deviancy finally landed me on this little game called “Three Sister’s Story” – a hentai AVN! I was amazed. I had no idea games like this existed. From there I found others – Season of the Sakura, Amy’s Fantasies… something about a teacher shoving jelly in a girl’s panties, I dunno. The point is, I loved the storytelling/porn mix.
Fast forward to 2020! Thanks to COVID-19, Quaran-Teri needed stimulation (hur hur). All my tabletop gaming had fallen apart, no Marvel movies to be excited for, just me and my pets and my wife wondering what the hell to do now. I was cleaning out a secondary hard drive when I came upon some old Illusion games (Sexy Beach, Artificial Girl, et al), and I wondered if the company was still making things. That lead me to find an AVN made with Honey Select, which lead me to discover that this world was still alive, and even bigger than ever.
TNT: So is that what led you to decide to create your own game?
Teri: Picking up from the last answer, I found that there were all sorts of ways to make the graphics for these games. Not long after I found my first modern AVN than I discovered that I really prefer the look of Daz models to the more “anime style” ones – I just didn’t know they were Daz models. I assumed these characters were being made wholecloth in something like Blender. As I played more and more games, I saw the same assets popping up and started to put it together that these aren’t assets being made from scratch. After a minimal amount of digging, I found Daz 3D… and it was FREE! I downloaded it just to fuck around and see what I could do.
Then I found out Ren’Py (the [engine used] to make most visual novels) is ALSO FREE! This lead me to open up a Scrivener file on a novel I was working on and think to myself “you know what? I think this could be a pretty interesting game!” Some people agreed with me and told me I should give it a try.
When I really started to think about it, I wanted to make a game with a female main character where she’s not going to be continually brutalized or forced to make decisions that put her in those sorts of situations. At no point in any of my games do I want the main character to be forced to succumb to a sexual assault, let alone start ENJOYING it halfway through. I want the female main character to be someone a girl would actually want to BE, not just a sort of fantasy about what some people want women to be. As such, it makes sense that I put in the option to be male or female in my game – why can’t both be equally capable? I’ve seen a few other games do this (Heavy Five and Bad Memories come to mind), but not nearly enough.
TNT: So what’s Mythos all about? As this is a new game not yet released, what would you say is the main attraction?
Teri: This may sound a bit too ambitious, but I can try to explain the (hopeful) draw of Mythos.
The point of the original novel idea was to make an urban fantasy setting that wasn’t grimdark or oppressive. I’ve heard the argument that “if you have things like vampires and ghosts in a setting, it has to be dark!” No. No, it does not! And that sort of self-limited thought frustrates me to no end. If you think concepts have to be presented a certain way, that just means you’re unimaginative. I have vampires, ghosts, demons, werewolves, and a murder. Just watch me make it a fun setting! I won’t bow down to the edgelords!
The second draw is the gender choice side of things. No, I know I’m not the only one to do this, but I don’t think enough VNs do it. The story is basically the same no matter if you’re male or female, but I know plenty of players want to feel a certain “connection” to the main character; a sort of self-insert into the story, I guess? Sure, the lady-path is a purely lesbian option, but I really don’t think that’ll be much of a problem. I’ve even heard feedback from some male players eager to play the female route! But again, nothing story-related will be gender-locked; just some sex options.
Finally, one of the biggest things I hope to accomplish is for people to become invested and interested in this world. I’m doing vampires in a completely different way than anybody else has done (I think… I hope…) Demons and angels aren’t what you expect at all. The death of Lisa Harrison is just the gateway into a huge, bizarre world of magical studies, global conspiracies, fantasy races in hiding, hyper-tech the public isn’t ready for… Lisa Harrison is basically like my Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. Just with less creamed corn. Probably more Gravity Falls, now that I think of it…
TNT: So how much planning did you put into your game and do you think it was enough?
Teri: If you count the work I put into the original novel idea? A whole bunch! You could go even further than that and say I’ve been kinda planning this since I was a child. When my uncle dragged me to a D&D game with him, I was fascinated! I never went back to that group, likely because that bunch of high school dudes didn’t like a little girl hanging around and pretending to be a gnome, but from that point on my jam has been all things fantasy. For Mythos in particular (or at least the novel it’s based on), I studied a specific few mythologies (saying which ones may be a spoiler), and looked at the lore for a lot of the popular tropey fantasy beings; vampires, werewolves, spellcasters, and others like that. Not because I want to stay “true to the lore,” mind you – I want to take these kinds of things in directions that haven’t been taken (or at least not taken often). Mythos’ lore is going to be hopefully different from all other urban fantasy settings, with just enough similarity to subvert expectations.
TNT: That sounds really interesting!
TNT: Given how much planning and lore there is, how big is the game going to be once it’s finished?
Teri: Well, even being new to all this, I know that game design is a very fluid process. I had the entire story for the original novel planned out – all the plot points, characters, and generally which scenes went where. Just over the course of changing a few things to make it into an AVN, suddenly a bunch of characters appeared, a few existing characters changed drastically, and entire scenes started to be added. Even the identity of the murderer has changed! I would think that this particular story was going to be maybe 10 Chapters (updates), but now it’s looking like it may be double that. I don’t want to put an exact number on it of course, but this is a murder mystery, after all. You can’t drag it out too long or you forget the mystery you’re trying to solve!
Bear in mind that there’s no uniform size for “Chapters” in Mythos – each one will be as long as thematically appropriate. I won’t be padding out a shorter chapter just to make it bigger; it’ll just be a chapter you get that much sooner. Just like when reading a novel, the sections are dividers of major beats in a story; no longer or shorter than that. Hell, I’ve read a novel where one chapter was seven words!
TNT: Have you based any of the characters in your game on real people that you know?
Teri: Almost all of them, actually. Tara is an amalgamation of one of my friends and my grandmother. The main character’s parents share a lot of facets with my own parents. Sophia is very closely based on a girl I was friends with back when we worked in the same mall. The list goes on and on, really. I can only think of one character that has no basis on people I know, and even then I’m sure that character is going to develop traits of people they remind me of as I start writing more of them. The game is based in Baltimore, where I’ve lived all my life, so just having that setting so familiar to me is bound to bring more of my real life associations and experiences into it. Also, I’m really bad at coming up with names, so pretty much every name you see in the game are first and/or last names of people I’ve met at some point in my life… except Rain Sunbeam. I’ll take the blame for that one.
TNT: Why did you choose the setting you have and what are your favourite supernatural/fantasy based entertainments? (films/books/shows/games)
Teri: Even though I started my descent into nerddom with medieval fantasy, slowly I started to really appreciate fantasy in higher-technology level settings. The conflict of science versus technology is really fascinating to me – how does a wizard feel about tazers? Do UV lamps harm vampires, or does it have to be the actual sun burning them? In my early teens, the World of Darkness RPGs (Vampire: the Masquerade, et al) were coming about, and I latched onto those pretty quickly. The Dresden Files novels are another setting I absolutely adore (though I haven’t even opened the latest book yet, due to me working almost non-stop on Mythos.) Finally, I’m also a MASSIVE Star Wars nerd.
Star Wars is fantasy, not science fiction, and I will argue to my fucking DEATH defending that! Fight me.
TNT: Don’t worry, I’m not going to fight you on that one!
TNT: Following on from that, what or who are your influences?
Teri: As far as influences for the genre and setting, Jim Butcher and the World of Darkness game lines are a big part of it. They both have slightly different takes on how certain mechanics of their worlds work, but they’re practically the same setting.
As far as writing influences, in addition to Jim Butcher, I’d say Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett – with a little bit of Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, and Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories thrown in. While they’re not all writers of the genre, their storytelling techniques are things I’ve kept with me for as long as I’ve been creating worlds and stories.
Finally, for the murder mystery portion! Yes, reading Agatha Christie and Sir Doyle gave me some inspiration, it was actually films that inspire me for that. Murder By Death, Clue, and Knives Out wonderfully combine humour and murder. Oddly enough, I love the movies that are about a whole bunch of pieces scattered throughout come together in the end. All of the Ocean’s movies are in my favourites (except maybe 12), as well as Logan Lucky, and the Back to the Future series. It’s the wonderful use of foreshadowing and callbacks that really get me going – I want someone to be playing Chapter Seven of Mythos, blink, and then go back to see that it’s something I hinted at in some offhand comment in Chapter One.
TNT: What one piece of advice would you give to other future prospective female devs?
Teri: Don’t be afraid. Seriously. It may seem like you’re entering some “boy’s club” where you’ll be treated like you’re an outsider, but for the most part that has NOT been my experience. I haven’t been seriously asked for nudes once! (yes, erm, sorry about that, the staff member in question has been talked to ;))
Of course there’s going to be a few jackholes in the bunch, but that’s hardly unique to the developer community. The nice ones aren’t being nice just to get into your pants, either, believe it or not – even knowing I’m gay, I’ve had people spending ENORMOUS amounts of time helping me with some things I don’t understand (the Daz learning curve is steep). We’re all writing stories with sex in them, but that doesn’t mean that’s all we’re about. The humour will naturally be more crude amongst the devs than you’d find in other communities, but that’s to be expected – you probably wouldn’t want to be a dev in this industry if you weren’t a little bit like that yourself, right?
If anything, it’s incredibly liberating to be amongst people who will celebrate you saying the dirtier things on your mind, rather than holding back for “polite company.”
TNT: Indeed! What is one piece of advice you wish you could go back in time and give to yourself?
Teri: Well, that depends on the context – are we talking about just in relation to AVNs, or in my general life?
For the whole AVN bit: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because you will NOT be able to just “teach yourself” everything you need to know. There are things out there that you don’t know that you don’t know. Questions you don’t even know to ask. Even though I caught these things rather early, I still have to redo a lot of what I did because of how WRONG I was doing it!
If we’re talking about life, I’ll just be kinda cryptic here; but it still can be applied to anybody: You can be better than this. Don’t be the kind of person that you’ll regret being later.
TNT: Since you became a developer, has your view of the industry changed?
Teri: When I was still just playing these games, I got a little annoyed at people who would push developers for faster releases. Even before I got into AVNs, I’d see it in every game that had updates – mostly MMOs. Now that I’m doing the developing… God, it’s even more work than I thought, especially for a single person. It makes total sense now why an update could take four months or more, especially if you have a full-time job in addition.
Otherwise, my perception went from “this looks really hard” to me discovering Daz and Ren’Py thinking “oh, maybe this isn’t so hard” to me now thinking “okay, it’s actually way harder than I initially thought!”
TNT: So it’s hard then? *nudge nudge, wink wink* 😉
TNT: Would you consider a collaboration with another dev, either for cross-promotion or having each other’s characters have a cameo?
Teri: I would absolutely love to do that. There’s a few devs in particular I would be very pleased to work with (and one that’s even approached me about it!). For cameos, I actually have a few subtle references to other games (see if you can spot them all!), and got permission from some others to use their renders at various points – for example, the Main Character will have desktop backgrounds from a few different AVNs on their computer.
If any Dev wants to have a random appearance by someone from Mythos (or maybe have one of their characters appear IN Mythos), they can feel free to contact me! I’d be happy to work something out. I ADORE crossovers. Love them. A few of my characters would actually work in almost any setting… but to explain why would probably be spoilers. *Wink*.
Yeah, I just said “wink” out loud.
TNT: Are there any plans or ideas of developing the Mythos universe beyond the scope of the game or after it has finished? Are there plans for a sequel?
Teri: 100% yes. There’s a reason the game’s full title is “Mythos: Book One”… which I’ll probably change before release. The murder mystery is only the first story – I hope. Depending on interest, I have a whole world to explore. There’s supernatural races and factions that are going to be just mentioned in Book One that could come into play later. The mystery in Book One is actually tied to a much, much larger story – solving the murder opens up a whole range of possibilities. If anything, one could consider this first game to be an introduction into the world. I have the outlines for at least two other full games jotted down right now, and there’s enough for me to probably keep doing this until I die, if I wanted to.
I could at least knock out a bunch of games before, oh I dunno let me just think of a random year… 2077? Heh heh heh… okay, that’s not as funny since Cyberpunk has actually now released; hopefully that’ll distract people long enough for me to get Mythos done.
TNT: Which of your game’s characters would you say is most influenced by your own personality?
Teri: Well, I could be really obtuse and say “all of them, because I’m the writer.” But I won’t. Even though I just did.
Anyway, for real reals – the character that’s absolutely the most like me is B. For starters – If I could pull off her hairstyle in real life, I totally would. For another, there’s a lot of myself in B in particular. She’s going to have my sense of humour (God help us all), and I also plan on having her play with the fourth wall a bit.
The Main Character has some of my personality in them, too – the dialogue choices are all things I would say, they just vary based on mood. So you can be angry Teri, funny Teri, serious Teri, and so on. The Main Character’s backstory also has a lot of mirrors to mine – particularly their theatre and gaming background.
TNT: Do your friends and family know that you’re a dev? If so, what do they think?
Teri: I talk about it pretty casually with my friends. Well… as much as I can talk about anything being locked into my house for the past eight months. When I do my online tabletop games it comes up every now and then; they don’t care about the “adult” part so much as they’re fascinated by the coding and rendering aspects – apparently they forgot I used to do a lot of coding in my 20s!
My family doesn’t really know, but not because I’m hiding it from them – it’s because they don’t really have any interest in anything I do. I don’t mean that as a bad thing! It’s just that my entire family is into sports and drinking, and I don’t get into either of those things. Likewise, they can’t fathom liking tabletop and video games. If it weren’t for my uncle, I may well have ended up like all the rest of them!
Finally, my wife is very deeply aware of my project, and she’s actually helped with some work on it – she’s designed my title screen (she’s a visual artist, I am very much not). I also often have her look at some of my renders to see if she has any aesthetic critiques.
TNT: Let’s get the pervy questions from the inquisitive out of the way…
TNT: This question was a suggestion by someone who’ll remain nameless, what are your measurements?
Teri: Well, I’m in America, so Imperial units, sadly. You know – inches, feet, pounds, that kind of thing. The only time we use Metric is when we’re buying soft drinks, I guess. Or medicine. I couldn’t even tell you how much a kilogram is.
TNT: Does the carpet match the curtains? (That’s drapes for our American viewers)
Teri: Okay, first things first! The only time I ever hear another American use the word “drapes” is when it’s in the very question “does the carpet match the drapes?” Otherwise, I’ve only ever heard them called curtains. That’s a weird thing, isn’t it? We only use the word “drapes” in reference to a pubic hair question!
Anyway, no, the carpet doesn’t match the curtains. I sometimes change the colours of my curtains on a whim, and I try to remove all traces of me ever having HAD carpet. I prefer bare floors.
TNT: Domme, Sub or Switch?
Teri: Domme all the way. I absolutely cannot sub – I’m awful at it. I either get angry or I break down crying. It’s not fun for anybody.
TNT: Would you though?
Teri: I already have. Your sister says hello, by the way.
TNT: Ohhhhh, so that’s what she meant by that, it all makes sense now!
TNT: You get “shipped” with a lot of other female fans/devs, why do you think this is?
Teri: Well, let’s get the obvious answer out of the way – I’m a lesbian. A vagitarian. I prefer clams to sausages. Basically, if I’m being too subtle about things, I like girls. So it kinda makes sense that people ship me with other females; more so than when the straight ones get shipped with other females. Though it seems I’m highly shipped with a straight female dev… anyway!
Other than me being as gay as the springtime, I have to theorize it’s because of how sexually open-minded you have to be to be part of this industry. I’m not going to pretend that females in these circles aren’t the apparent minority. We seem to be highly outnumbered! So there’s a certain appeal to think that we’re all secretly licking each other behind the scenes, because we’re “dirty enough” to do it – unlike all those women on the outside! A little secret, though – even those of us who aren’t as open about it are much more sexual than you may think.
Also, I tend to playfully flirt a lot. That probably helps.
TNT: Okay, final question… In the run up to the release of your game you’ve been posting interviews with the cast members… What’s it been like to be on the receiving end?
Teri: Well, technically with the cast member interviews I’m getting it from both ends (HEYO!), so it actually feels good to not be doing all the work for once. Not that it’s much work – as probably any author can tell you, the characters write themselves. I just sorta let them do whatever they want. Tara wouldn’t let Jessica just have a regular interview!
Though having this interview done with me while simultaneously writing the interviews for Mythos has certainly had each affecting the other to some degree. Just don’t expect any of my characters to come barging in to this one!